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Tool in Boston manhunt popular with NC law enforcement

Posted April 22, 2013

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— Law enforcement agencies nationwide, including a number in North Carolina, use heat-seeking cameras like the one the FBI mounted to a helicopter to help locate Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev was hiding in a power boat, covered by a tarp, in the backyard of a Watertown, Mass., home late Friday when officers, who could see his movements under the tarp because of the camera, moved in to capture him.

John Sutton, vice president of Aero Services, a Sanford company that installs such cameras on helicopters and other aircraft, smiled as he watched the nationally televised demonstration of the cameras' effectiveness.

"That individual was lying in a cool environment – the boat was a lot cooler than he was – so his body was hot, and it would show that heat even through the tarp," Sutton said Monday.

Law enforcement is the prime customer for Aero Services. The company was working on a thermal-imaging camera for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office on Monday.

"They love it. It helps a lot, and it saves a lot of lives on the ground," he said. "A lot of agencies wish they had it."

The cameras cost from $200,000 to $800,000 each, but the system is powerful enough to pick up heat from recent footprints or handprints.

Thermal-imaging camera, infrared camera Sanford firm installs infrared cameras on aircraft

Aero Services often works on as many as five orders from across the country at any given time.

"It's truly a helpful tool for us, especially for nighttime operations," said Lt. Todd Woodard of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Woodard said the cameras have been used to search for missing persons or to conduct drug busts, and troopers used them to help capture suspects in a Moore County homicide in 2010 and to search for a robbery and hit-and-run suspect in Clayton in January.

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  • frosty Apr 23, 2013

    They are very nice tools to have. But they are very costly. Even the small hand held units cost near or over $10,000. They add another dimension in searches. But as any very effective tool they can be misused, so the public must make sure that are used responsibly.

  • godshelper Apr 23, 2013

    "The homeowner walked out of his house once the 'shelter in place' order was rescinded and found the man and called the police. The homeowner SAW the man from a few feet away. THEN the chopper came and saw him with the heat sensor. The heat sensor did NOT find the wounded man until it knew where to look. There are no bragging rights here for the technology."
    djofraleigh

    You believe everything you read don't you? baaa...baaa. Sheep

  • godshelper Apr 23, 2013

    "Reminds me of the movie Blue Thunder back in the 70's about a chopper that did this stuff. The cop that flew it landed it on a railroad track to destroy it. Do we really want this flying over us? I can't belive how many people will trade freedom for security. My uncle 92 WWII vet from Normandy thru the Bulge and to the Rhine, said that the pics in Boston, reminded him of the stories that the People of France and Belgium told him about what the Gestapo and SS did. We need to listen to these guys. They witnessted a government out for total control. Who will come save us?"
    lazyrebel

    You and your uncle can move to France too. Yes I want this technology used to secure our country, if it wasn't for technology you would probably be speaking german right now. We have to sacrifice certain freedoms in order to live the life our fore fathers visioned for us. Take of the blinders and don't be a sheep. The technology is needed. If we didn't use it he could have healed and destroyed more lives.

  • djofraleigh Apr 23, 2013

    I can't belive how many people will trade freedom for security. - COMMENT

    Trade freedom for security when you lock your house or car and put you money in a bank instead of your pocket. There is a balance to be determined.

    Me, I want the motels to share info on me and then reward me for being a good customer who checks out on time, doesn't steal towels, leave a mess, etc. I'm not afraid of government looking at me. I'd be one for more cameras on the street and speed monitors on my car (if everyone had them).

    Nope, I'm not thinking of the Gestapo or KGB taking over. I am afraid of the all volunteer (same think) army. A draftee army would never overthrow our government.

    Give me more power over government. Do away with withholding tax and the people would have more power. The government gets my money before I get it. The private citizen has power only at the polls. If we don't pay our taxes on April 15th, or the 15th of every month, then we have power over government.

  • djofraleigh Apr 23, 2013

    The homeowner walked out of his house once the 'shelter in place' order was rescinded and found the man and called the police. The homeowner SAW the man from a few feet away. THEN the chopper came and saw him with the heat sensor. The heat sensor did NOT find the wounded man until it knew where to look. There are no bragging rights here for the technology.

  • lazyrebel Apr 23, 2013

    Reminds me of the movie Blue Thunder back in the 70's about a chopper that did this stuff. The cop that flew it landed it on a railroad track to destroy it. Do we really want this flying over us? I can't belive how many people will trade freedom for security. My uncle 92 WWII vet from Normandy thru the Bulge and to the Rhine, said that the pics in Boston, reminded him of the stories that the People of France and Belgium told him about what the Gestapo and SS did. We need to listen to these guys. They witnessted a government out for total control. Who will come save us?

  • godshelper Apr 23, 2013

    The fire departments having been using thermal imaging cameras for 15 years. They are about $4,000 to $7,000.00 each.

  • 3TeensGrowinUp2Fast Apr 22, 2013

    Great technology, too bad it's so expensive. They should (probably do) use this for missing persons.